Student arrested in Cebu for posting viral kidnapping hoax

CEBU CITY, Philippines – A 21-year-old student was arrested in Cebu City on Wednesday, December 4, for creating a post that went viral about men in a white van allegedly conducting kidnappings around Metro Cebu.

"This happened amidst reports of abductions of teenagers by still unidentified groups of men using vans in Metro Manila. News reports said the abducted victims were being harvested of their vital organs for unknown reason," Police Regional Office-7 said in a statement.

The post had over 5,000 reactions before it was taken down, according to a report in Cebu Daily News.

City police chief Lieutenant Colonel Maribel Getigan said the student behind the post was from Danao City. He was arrested and brought to the police station on Thursday, December 5.

"We are preparing a criminal case for violation of the Revised Penal Code, particularly Alarm and Scandal in relation to (cybercrime law), Section 6, Republic Act 10175," Getigan said.

Similar posts have been going viral in Manila, including videos that were found to have been staged. (READ: FALSE: Video of white van 'abducting' student)

"He is up for psychological assessment whether or not he is on his normal state of mind," Getigan said of the student who created the post about the alleged kidnappings in Cebu.

"His action of posting malicious message to the social media had caused panic to the public which is tantamount to criminal offense," she added.

Police said they would pursue charges to ensure that others won't copy the incident and cause more unnecessary panic. –

Ryan Macasero

Ryan covers Cebu and the Visayas for Rappler. He covers all news in the region, but is particularly interested in people stories, development issues and local policy making.